The Big Apple!

When we were little, New York city was called the ‘big apple’. Never understood why. The name if one looks up Wikipedia, appears to have gain traction from 1920 because of a sports writer. Fact or fiction? You go investigate further.

Low-Mid-Up Manhattan map
This will be how we split the apple!

This is a covering essay. Which means it is not the handprint story of our journeys to the Big Apple. Like the country cover pages elsewhere in our blog, this page is an “essentials” only introduction to our many journeys to a particular region, country or even city such as this case. Yes we know, this is all so dreadfully organized. You should see Mel’s tracking spreadsheet where he lists out all the pages and posts – and how they link with each other!

Anyway, let’s begin dissecting the apple ok?

Lower Manhattan

Downtown, things will be great when we’re at down town…the song goes. This is actually the most visible part of the city, being the part that is home to the financial district. The Dutch were the first Europeans to arrive and established a trading station (fur) at this end of the island. It was strategic, since it straddles both the Hudson and East rivers. Eventually New Amsterdam became New York through colonial exchanges (friendly or not) and the city became a bustling commercial city of the new American republic in the 1800s.

What to do here? For one, tourists coming to this part of the city cannot miss out on the massive bull at Wall street. Just don’t pose at the bull’s back though…lol. Come and observe minutes of silence at the 9-11 memorial where Mel’s uncle and aunt worked, and luckily escaped sure demise because they happened to be late for work on that fateful day.

Of course a short stroll away is battery park, from which one can jump onto the boats heading to Ellis and Liberty islands. You gotta remember, for the vast majority of migrants who came in by sea, it was lady liberty that they saw first as they got into the harbour.

Also home to large ethnic enclaves of little Italy and Chinatown (said to be the oldest in the US), it adds to the rich mix of cultures though it is now a little more disseminated. We bought American ginseng in Chinatown. It’s cheaper there. And it’s not just the old. The neighbourhoods have been revitalized or even re-zoned, such as how Chelsea (not the President’s daughter) has transformed its derelict overhead rail line into the “high line” parkway. Yes we know most of it lie in Mid town, but it starts here in lower Manhattan ok?

Just remember not to place a lock on the Brooklyn bridge, because it invites a fine. By the way there’s a fabulous lobster rolls there…read more here

Mid Town

Full of landmarks, this section of the city is home to world renown venues such as Madison square garden and Times square. How can you not recall the large screens on the buildings with people just milling about? We think this place gives the Shibuya crossing a run for the title of most iconic pedestrian intersection in the world. Alright, we admit that this title came from us.

It has a largest concentration of skyscrapers of the city according to some literature, many of which you can make your way up for a bird’s eye view. Most popular would be the Empire State but one should also check out the top of the rock at Rockefeller building (considered part of uptown though to some). You might also recall in one of our blog posts (here) that we compared photos taken 20 years apart at the same spot – just outside New York public library. Remember to sneak in for a quick selfie too.

Or if you are one for culture, consider the Broadway shows. As you might know, the theater district comprises of many theaters and shows are relatively competitive in pricing. Though for the more popular ones it can be harder to get and pricier. Guess this is how demand and supply works!

And if you watched movies that featured the city, well you just have to take a walk at Grand Central terminal. Finally, we thought it was cool to visit the United Nations and take a tour of the general assembly, if it is not in session. Like to read about it? Here it is!

Up Town

Girl. She’s been living in her white bread world…so the song goes.

Home to Central Park, this part of the is bounded in the north by the neighbourhood of Harlem, considered “tough” in the distant past. Like other parts of the city, it is still growing especially with the influx of immigrants revitalizing this section of the city.

The key feature of upper Manhattan has got to be this green space. Established way back in 1857, it is the largest patch of green in an otherwise urban forest. Some statistics suggest this is the most visited urban garden in the United States. Within the park itself is a host of attractions to check off on your list. Do you know the meaning of an architectural “folly”? It is a structure constructed for decoration but conveying a specific purpose. In the case of Belvedere castle, built as a Victorian folly in 1869.

Quite a few museums are located uptown too, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art (fondly called ‘the Met’). We could not cover much in just one day. You might need a few more to see all of the exhibits! Nearby is the Guggenheim, so pop over there too for a dose of art. We walked across the park and visited the American museum of natural history, it’s cool! Our story here.

There will be no justice in the form of writing a post to pretend and give guidance to what one can see, do, smell and eat in the Big Apple. The sensory overload will be evident when you get there. For us, we present our take on visiting:

  • Downtown, more popularly called Lower Manhattan
  • Midtown, home of skyscraper panorama of the city
  • Uptown to the largest patch of green in the city

Tap on each one of the above for our story of the big Apple!LOL. Having lived in Amsterdam for some time, it was natural for us to link some of the modern names of the city with its potential Dutch origins. We say potential because we are not linguists nor true historians. Thus it can all be speculation. For example, Brooklyn sounds phonetically close to Breukelen in the Netherlands.

Anyway, the point of the story is this : that the city has become a melting pot whether one like it or not. From our perspective it has became the most vibrant city in the world because of this diversity. Something that we’ve yet to truly see imitator cities achieve. Look out for updates. We visit NYC often enough!

We were in New York City quite a few times…

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